Young chess players at King Edward’s Witley are enjoying a unique opportunity to be coached by an elite chess champion.
Currently ranked in the top 10 in England, the former World U18 champion, Grandmaster Nick Pert is well known for training some of the country’s rising junior chess stars, including England and county players. He currently visits King Edward’s once a week to teach tactics to members of the school’s established chess club thanks to the generous funding of current parents Mr and Mrs Chylikin.
Mr Pert’s tuition is drawing increasing numbers to the chess club (which runs twice a week). Pupils are learning all aspects of the game, from converting an advantage to anticipating the plans of the opponent – skills not only relevant to improving their chess playing prowess, but also applicable to daily life.
Claims have abounded for many years regarding the benefits of teaching chess to children and according to a report in the Financial Times, a Canadian academic and chess master, argues: “Chess is an especially effective teaching tool. It can equally challenge the minds of girls and boys, gifted and average, athletic and non-athletic, rich and poor. It can teach children the importance of planning and the consequences of decisions. It can further teach how to concentrate, how to win and lose gracefully, how to think logically and efficiently, and how to make tough and abstract decisions.”
Mr Pert, who achieved his Grandmaster title when he was just 22 years old, comments: “The best way for beginners to improve their chess game is through putting in the time. Tournaments are also vital to securing a competitive edge because you play so many games back to back against different players; that’s why I always encourage young players starting out to attend tournaments. It is also important to analyse your game after playing to improve strategy.” True to his word, since Mr Pert’s arrival the chess team has already participated in a major tournament at Wellington College where members were awarded prizes.
Stuart Todd, Mathematics teacher at King Edward’s Witley who organised the specialist coaching, said: “These coaching sessions complement our existing extra-curricular chess club running for three years, taking the game to a whole new level. This is a first for the School and we are very excited to learn from such a prestigious and high-ranking chess coach as Nick Pert. We hope this is the start of a long-term investment in the future of the chess team at King Edward’s Witley, but equally in the overall growth and development of all participating pupils.”